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BCAP: Consider It a Holliday Wish Come True

Chris Holliday has more pastureland than he needs for his cows—335 acres to be exact. So when USDA introduced a way to use that land to help create clean energy while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he saw it as an opportunity.

“I thought it was a good idea and I had a good feeling about it,” said Holliday, owner of Holliday Investment in Prairie Home, Mo. He is one of several farmers that signed up acreage in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, last year. All 335 acres will be used to plant Miscanthus, a giant perennial grass that can be processed into a biofuel.

The USDA incentive greatly reduces farmers’ expenses to finance the planting, harvesting and delivery of the Miscanthus for processing. BCAP pays farmers up to 75 percent of the planting costs and offers an annual rental payment while producers wait for the crop to mature, which takes about three years. Read more »

USDA and Other Federal Employees Meet in Northern Wisconsin to Discuss the Importance of Title IX

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 addressing gender equity in educational programming. For the first time, this groundbreaking legislation mandated equal opportunity for women in all fields of federally funded public education. The passage of Title IX changed the American education system in ways unimaginable just decades earlier.

Pat Leavenworth, NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist, welcomes attendees to the 2012 USDA Interagency Conference. NRCS is the current lead agency for Federal Women’s Program, who hosts the conference.

Pat Leavenworth, NRCS Wisconsin State Conservationist, welcomes attendees to the 2012 USDA Interagency Conference. NRCS is the current lead agency for Federal Women’s Program, who hosts the conference.

The Wisconsin USDA Interagency Conference, hosted by the Federal Women’s Program (FWP), is also celebrating its 40th year of existence. Read more »

U.S. Exporters Shine at Asia’s Largest Food Trade Show

Helping U.S. exporters tap into Japan’s $670 billion food market is a top priority for the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Japan. One way we do this is by organizing the USA Pavilion at FOODEX Japan, the largest food and beverage trade show in Asia. This year’s show, which was held March 6-9, drew 74,000-plus attendees, not just from Japan but also from other Asian markets including Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Hong Kong.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos (right) visits a U.S. organic onion exhibit at the USDA-endorsed FOODEX Japan. The food and beverage show took place March 6-9 and is the largest show of its kind in Asia. The U.S. Pavilion was one of the largest at the show and featured more than 70 companies. (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo)

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos (right) visits a U.S. organic onion exhibit at the USDA-endorsed FOODEX Japan. The food and beverage show took place March 6-9 and is the largest show of its kind in Asia. The U.S. Pavilion was one of the largest at the show and featured more than 70 companies. (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo)

The USA Pavilion was one of the largest at the show, featuring more than 70 U.S. companies and a wide range of “Made in America” products, including meat and seafood, fresh produce, wine and specialty snack foods. Participants had an opportunity to showcase their wares to key decision-makers from restaurants, supermarkets, wholesalers, grocery stores, foodservice and hospitality companies, fast food chains and convenience stores, as well as distributors, agents and brokers. Read more »

USDA Science: In Support of Feed the Future and Global Food Security

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

As part of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative called Feed the Future, USDA is building collaborative scientific partnerships with nearly a dozen organizations that will help U.S. and African goat producers enhance goat breeding and productivity.

Feed the Future is part of a multilateral effort launched at the L’Aquila World Summit on Food Security in 2009 to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015.  The program enables affected governments and their people to take the lead in developing and implementing food security solutions. These “country-driven” strategies give ownership and accountability, while tackling the root causes of hunger and poverty. Working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), USDA offers strong competencies in capacity development, food assistance, research and technology transfer in support of Feed the Future. Read more »

Defying Expectations, Fighting Challenges and Fighting Fires

Bequi Livingston, Smokey Bear Hotshot Crew, U.S. Forest Service

Bequi Livingston, Smokey Bear Hotshot Crew, U.S. Forest Service

When she was in high school, Bequi Livingston read a book about firefighting and was quickly intrigued. Little did she know that she would one day become one of the U.S. Forest Service’s pioneer women in wildland firefighting and fight fires for nearly 20 years.

After graduating from college, an article in her local newspaper caught her eye. The article was about the Young Adult Conservation Corps encouraging people to apply for its fire crew on the Smokey Ranger District. Livingston was accepted, but when she excitedly reported to work on her first day on the Lincoln National Forest, her office manager was surprised to meet a woman. Read more »

The Energy Behind Alternative Energy

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, is still in its infancy, but its potential success has producers and businesses wanting more.

“We have people on a waiting list,” said Tim Wooldridge, Arkansas project manager with MFA Oil Biomass. MFA was selected by USDA to manage three of nine project areas in fiscal year 2011. Each project area was awarded federal funding to provide incentives to farmers to grow non-food crops that can be processed into biofuels. “Our initial target in the Arkansas project was 5,000 acres, which we surpassed in signing up 6,588 acres. We now have 1,500 acres on a waitlist. We could easily get another 6,000.” Read more »